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Women have spent more time reading raunchy novels during lockdown than ever before

Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Fifty Shades Of Grey, Normal People and the Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, are among the top 20 most erotic novels of all time, according to British women.

The study, by research and insights agency Perspectus Global, found almost HALF (45 percent) of British females claim they have consumed more erotic literature over the last year.

In fact, a fifth (20 percent) of UK females would rather read an erotic novel than watch a sexy film or pornography.

However, one in ten (11 percent) confessed that they and their partner have enjoyed reading steamy novels to each other.

And the nationwide poll of 2,000 women revealed a list of the raunchiest reads of all time, with runaway sensation Fifty Shades of Grey coming out trumps (voted for by 39 percent of respondents).

50 Shades, the film

Written by British author EL James in 2011, it topped bestseller lists across the world, and is credited with making erotic literature mainstream and removing stigma about enjoying the escapism of a steamy book.

Other tawdry tales that Brits love include The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl – later adapted to a film called The Secret Life of a Call Girl – which comprised of blogs written by  Dr. Brooke Magnanti, under the pen name Belle De Jour.

And in third place is I Am Woman by Ann Bannon (14 percent), the lesbian pulp fiction novel written in 1959 which is widely said to have been years ahead of its time.

Also on the list were Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence which caused a scandal when published in 1928 and was eventually banned for several years after his publishers were ordered to stop printing by the courts.

The 1982 blockbuster, Lace by Shirley Conran also featured in the list, a novel about four friends looking back over their early lives in detail and attributed with paving the way for a generation of smutty books written with style, attitude, and a sense of humour. 

Little wonder then, perhaps, that a third (32 percent) of women say they tend to gravitate towards steamy reads they are feeling bored.

Overall, more than a fifth (21 percent) of women have been listening to erotic podcasts more often over the past year and 16 percent have found themselves reading raunchy blogs for the first time.

36 percent claim it’s a great way to escape from daily life temporarily, while 50 percent love the thrill of reading something naughty, and 16 percent have been doing so to spice up their own love life.

And almost a quarter (24 percent) agree that the Fifty Shades of Grey series has made it more acceptable to buy and read an erotic book and made them more confident about doing so.

Said Ellie Glason of Perspectus Global, “We wanted to delve into what the nation’s women have been up to during the past year, with an extended period inside.

“It seems that for many, relaxing with a sexy novel has been a bit of a lifeline and it’s interesting to see how many now see these previously deemed ‘specialist’ books as  mainstream reads. Definitely not to be keep hidden under the mattress.”

The study found that Norwich is the erotic literature capital of the UK, where HALF (50 percent) of city dwellers say their appetite for steamy novels has grown in the last year. In joint second place were Bristol (48 percent), and Leeds (48 percent)


  1.  The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by EL James- 39%
  2. The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl by Belle De Jour -25%
  3. I Am a Woman by Ann Bannon -24%
  4. Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman- 18%
  5. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – 17%
  6. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence -16%
  7. Lace by Shirley Conran -15%
  8. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo -15%
  9. The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory – 10%
  10. Fingersmith by by Sarah Waters – 10%
  11. Normal People by Sally Rooney -10%
  12. The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice -9%
  13. The Rough Riders Series: Long Hard Ride by Lorelei James -8%
  14. Forever by Judy Bloom -8%
  15. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy -8%
  16. Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx – 7%
  17. The Viscount who Loved Me by Tessa Dare – 7%
  18. Mount! By Jilly Cooper – 7%
  19. Command Me by Geneva Lee -7%
  20. The Story of O by Pauline Reage -7%
Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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